Cupid's arrow can wound and, if you are feeling unwell today,
you could be suffering from lovesickness.
The Otago Daily Times investigates if Valentine's Day
is a catalyst for the disease and discovers how florists are
In the Massey University thesis ''Crazy in Love: Concepts of
morbid love in Western medicine from 1951 to the present'',
John Berks said the lovesickness ''disease'' had been
referred to in medicine, the arts and popular culture for
thousands of years, but then disappeared in the late 19th
The thesis concluded that lovesickness was not gone but
''lurks in the various disguised and attenuated forms in the
periphery of psychiatry''.
In Jacques Ferrand's encyclopedic work A Treatise On
Lovesickness, symptoms included ''a desire for
solitariness, sighing, hollow eyes, sleeplessness, loss of
appetite'', the agitation of the eye lids, a greenish-yellow
tint of the skin and sudden tears.
To determine the spread of the disease in Dunedin, figures
were requested under the Official Information Act to reveal
if Valentine's Day was a catalyst for lovesickness.
Southern District Health Board figures revealed 108 staff
took sick leave on Valentine's Day last year and 92 staff
were sick the day after.
More SDHB staff took sick leave on February 25, when 127
staff were sick.
University of Otago figures revealed 46 staff were sick on
Valentine's Day last year and 48 staff were sick the day
More staff were sick on February 20 last year, when 72
university staff were sick.
Dunedin City Council figures revealed that 17 council staff
were sick on February 14 and 15 last year.
More council staff were sick on eight other work days in
Although lovesickness does not appear to be rife, many
Dunedin florists yesterday talked about Valentine's Day
orders they had taken from clients who could have been
Amaryllis For Flowers owner Susan Broadley said one client
asked for an ''ugliest possible'' flower bouquet after a
falling out with their partner.
A bouquet with wilted flowers of ''garish colours'' was sent,
Bunches and Bows For Flowers owner Nicole Daniels said a
client paid for her to send a rose bouquet ''of stems with no
Absolutely Fabulous Flowers owner Lorna Burgess said someone
who had been ''dumped'' sent a bouquet of thistle and
dandelions to their former partner.
The Royal Society of New Zealand published an article on
lovesickness in which London clinical psychologist Dr Frank
Tallis said many people referred to psychologists could not
cope with the intensity of love and had suffered from
Dr Tallis said the symptoms included mania, with elevated
moods and inflated self-esteem; depression; or obsessive
compulsive disorder, such as repeatedly checking text
messages and emails.
''Although there is much modern research into the treatment
of relationship and psychosexual problems, there is little
dealing with the specific problem of lovesickness,'' Dr